As part of Slone Partners’ 2019 PMC Interview Series, we are delighted to present an exclusive interview with Anne-Marie Martin, Ph.D., SVP and Global Head of Precision Medicine at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and Board member of Personalized Medicine Coalition. As one of the largest pharma companies in the world, Novartis offers 85 medicines, 26 of which are in oncology; employs 108,000 people comprised of 140 nationalities; and does business in 155 countries, giving both the company and Anne-Marie a unique global perspective. 

This ongoing series of healthcare executive discussions is presented in partnership with the Personalized Medicine Coalition 15th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference November 13-14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School, Boston MA. For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.personalizedmedicineconference.org

Slone Partners: What is key for industry leaders to stay connected to the patients and the physicians that render care? What role do you think precision medicine will play?

Dr. Martin: Within the industry, advocacy partners, medical liaisons and medical organizations are on the front lines to support patients and the physician communities. We need to ensure transparency and trust at every part of our industry. Healthcare must be a two-way dialogue.

The same is true for precision medicine. The field of precision medicine encompasses the data and biology of the disease, plus the diagnostic tools to help best understand the right patient populations to treat. It is only by understanding and educating the entire healthcare ecosystem that we can ensure that the best possible care is received. All we do starts and ends with the patient’s needs and well-being.

Slone Partners: If material advances in personalized medicine in oncology were measured on a 100-yard football field, what yard line do you think represents the reality of where industry progress is, considering diagnostics, therapies, and possible cures?

Dr. Martin: Currently, our ‘precision medicine teams’ are on different parts of the field when it comes to measuring advancement. The encouraging part is that precision medicine is making strides down the field in all areas of the industry and health ecosystem.

The most advanced is recognition within the industry for the need to develop precision medicine solutions alongside therapies. This ‘team’ is in the red zone of their opposition and positioned to score.

When it comes to uptake and the implementation of precision medicine within the general research and development journey, the ‘team’ is about halfway down the field. The same is true for the integration of precision medicine within new innovative treatments, such as cell and gene therapies. The fifty yard line is within site.

The ‘team’ still marching up the field towards the red zone is comprised of ‘players’ in the larger health ecosystem. There are fruitful conversations happening and there is growing recognition to employ precision medicine as an integral part of the development process and treatment journey.

Slone Partners: You sit on the Board of Directors of Personalized Medicine Coalition. Do you think that when it comes to the individualized, intimate approaches that personalized medicine philosophically represents, that women offer unique value or perspectives to boards?

Dr. Martin: I feel fortunate to be a member of a Board where we each bring our individual expertise and perspectives that collectively help drive our organization’s mission. To be honest, I’ve never really esteemed myself as a ‘woman’ on the Board, but as a respected voice that is representative of my knowledge and expertise. As with all groups, organizations and boards, diversity will always contribute to the best outcomes. I see myself as part of that diversity.

Slone Partners: How does innovation stay fresh in scientific healthcare to create true revolutionary change?

Dr. Martin: Innovation only stays fresh when we have an open mind, never stop seeking, and continuously learn. To open up innovation, we must boost our curiosity and be willing to apply novel technologies and approaches. The world is evolving faster than ever today and the benefits of data and digital are forever changing the landscape of medical development. It takes a new type of discipline to stay abreast of the latest science & technology, literature, as well as keep pulse of what is happening through the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

Specifically, for Precision Medicine, we are at a very exciting point in time because we are a piece of the innovation and science exploding around us. It is a rare moment to see the newest discoveries and advancements for patients unfold in ways that in the past only seemed like science fiction.

Slone Partners: As part of this PMC Interview Series, we also interviewed Dr. Kenna R. Mills Shaw, the Executive Director of the Cancer Genomics Laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Institute in Texas. How do you interact with academic medicine institutions / academic researchers?

Dr. Martin: To truly innovate and make a difference for patients, there must be a synergized force throughout the industry. Collaborations increase the power of science and accelerate progress by merging ideas, capabilities, talent and even resources. Throughout my career, it has been through my various collaborations and work alongside other researchers and scientists, industry leaders, and advisory boards that have led to greatest outcomes.

Slone Partners: You’ve achieved phenomenal success. Take us inside your professional journey.

Dr. Martin: I attribute my career journey to keeping my eyes open to opportunities and being courageous enough to take advantage of them when they came along. Your career is a journey that you own. It is important to ensure that you gain as much knowledge as you can, be positioned to learn from and leverage the expertise around you. At the same time, you cannot be afraid to take risks. Certainly the mentors and advocates I have had along the way have helped considerably.

When I look back at the early part of my career, I relished the opportunity I had to be the director of molecular pathology at a hospital while also continuing to serve as an adjunct assistant professor. What I gained in those years set me up to take risks and contributed to my ascension into industry and the growing fields of biomarker research, translational medicine, and ultimately precision medicine.

Slone Partners: What makes you personally happy?

Dr. Martin: Throughout life, you must surround yourself with the constants that ground you and purpose that drives you. For me, this is my family and friends, along with the privilege of knowing that every day I’m working to achieve something to help patients have better lives.

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